Get Adobe Flash player

Staff Editorials

Toxic, misinformation, justice and nomophobia - words that define us

Sometimes it’s better to just not look in the mirror. Let the ugly truth exist without comment and hope it gets better.

That is the feeling we had reading the Words of The Year, chosen by the largest dictionary publishers for 2018. The words that represent 2018 were picked for their widespread use, sudden ubiquity or because the word wranglers felt they captured the mood of the planet. The choices are pessimistic but not inappropriate.

Oxford Dictionaries selected toxic as their word of the year; chose misinformation; Merriam Webster went with justice and Cambridge Dictionary got all obscure by picking nomophobia. 

Each of the dictionaries offered reasons for their selection. Here is the gist of their comments:


Toxic – As most people know this is a word meaning poisonous. In explaining their selection the Oxford Dictionary folks said toxic is now being used to describe an array of events, emotions and situations. And their explanation noted it “reflect [s] the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.”

Their website ( saw a 45 percent increase in searches for  toxic over the past year and the metaphorical use of the word has become standard in phrases like toxic relationships or toxic environment.


Misinformation – Appropriately for the online, they chose this word for the rampant spread of misinformation and the new challenges it poses. As one speaker on a video about their selection states, “we have gone past the age of information and are now stalled in the age of misinformation.” defines misinformation as “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.” 


Justice – 74 percent more searches for  justice than in 2017 led Merriam Webster to select this word. They explained that searches spiked following media reports where the word and concept were at the center of debates and was used in conjunctions with “economic justice, racial justice, social justice and criminal justice.”  

Justice also popped up a lot as an abbreviation for the  Department of Justice, including several Tweets by the president, which saw dictionary searches follow.

The dictionary spokesman noted that justice might seem like a common word but familiar words for abstract concepts are among the most looked up words. Merriam Webster defines justice as  - “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.”


Nomophobia – The British dictionary went 180 degrees opposite Merriam Webster by choosing a very unfamiliar word that describes a very common condition. Nomophobia means - “fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it.”

Nomophobia was chosen through a poll conducted by the dictionary. In announcing the top choice, the Cambridge editors stated, “Your choice, nomophobia, tells us that people around the world probably experience this type of anxiety enough that you recognized it needed a name!”

They also explained that the unease of being without a cell phone isn’t technically a phobia as it lacks the extreme fear of a true phobia.

According to their announcement, the word is a “blend” created by combining No Mo[bile] phobia. While it may seem new, their research found nomophobia used in records as early as 2008 and was added to the Cambridge online dictionary earlier this year.

Toxic, justice, misinformation and a  phobia that most of us have regarding our cell - not a cheery reflection of the past year. 

Here’s hoping that 2019 choices will be words like happy, healthy and wisdom.


There’s a reason everyone makes New Year’s Resolutions to eat better: After December it’s needed

By Christie Pool

Staff writer

It started on Thanksgiving Day with turkey and dressing, pecan pie, pineapple casserole, sausage balls, homemade fudge and stuff that I have forgotten that I ate. It continued with the SEC Championship game which, of course, called for party food like wings, buffalo chicken dip, and bear chili. And then it went downhill (and I’m not just talking about the game itself!)

Late November and December are a minefield  for anyone prone to gluttony. Even non-overeater’s are seriously tested to forsake yogurt and salad for visions of sugar plums dancing in your head. 

What’s a person to do with the likes of white chocolate peanut butter Ritz cracker cookies,  M&M Christmas cookie bars, perfectly frosted sugar cookies, peanut brittle, and Christmas Oreo Pops making their way around the office? Every day leading up to Christmas, someone would graciously stop by our office with a sweet and sugary treat. It was wonderful, yet tragic for those of us - me - with zero willpower when it comes to sweets. 

According to WebMd, Americans average about 20 teaspoons of added sugars per day (surely it’s higher in the month of December). The recommended amount is just six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men.

Sugar tastes so good but negatively affects our bodies. WebMd says we get slammed with a huge surge of the feel-good chemical dopamine when we munch on sugar-laden treats.  It’s easy to get addicted to that feeling of having extra dopamine swirling around in our brains, especially around two in the afternoon.

Candy and cookies give us a quick burst of energy by raising our blood sugar levels fast. But when our levels drop, according to WebMd, as our cells absorb the sugar we can feel jittery and anxious - a.k.a. the dreaded “sugar crash.”

Along with giving us cavities, eating lots of sweets has been shown to worsen joint pain because of the inflammation they cause. Studies show that sugar consumption can increase our risk of rheumatoid arthritis.  

WebMd also says it makes our skin age faster. 

Teeth, joints, and skin. The list goes on and on. From liver damage to heart damage, pancreas and kidney damage, sugar’s effects are not sweet. 

The one negative we mostly notice, however, is weight. After the Thanksgiving through December onslaught of awesome -yet-horrible-for-us treats, lots of us promise to eat better and stay away from the bad stuff our body doesn’t like (even if our taste buds do). 

Unfortunately, 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. Whether we are trying to lose weight, quit smoking or promise ourselves to go for a  jog every day, only eight percent of us actually will, according to Forbes. Each new year, most of us, according to, say we want to: stay fit and healthy (37 percent), lose weight (32 percent), enjoy life to the fullest (28 percent), spend less and save more (25 percent) and spend more time with family and friends (19 percent). 

So, while the likelihood of us doing any of those things long term is small, we should try. We need to pay the piper - at least for a little while - for our wretched December habits.

What is Christmas to you?

With last-minute Christmas shopping in full swing it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important. We asked our readers and Facebook followers to tell us what makes Christmas special for them. 


Jacque O’Terry Nowell – Jasper

“Christmas is a magical, meaningful experience of God’s goodness!”


Tia Howard – Jasper

“Having God as our father and savior and how He gave His only son so that our sins may be forgiven so we can live our eternal life with him. Christmas is all about Him, in Jesus’ name Amen.” 


Pat Haldeman – Jasper 

“Growing up, I always loved the Christmas plays at church, and celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Then going home mom would let us open our stocking on Christmas Eve.” 


Sami Kapela Jackson – Ball Ground 

“Christmas is all about the birth of love…it is the perfect time to remember we are made in that image..and therefore we are love too.  And….I get to unapologetically hug everyone!”


Laura Rizk - Talking Rock

“I love the Christmas holiday because, despite the question of the exact date, we remember the birth of Jesus, the light of the world, at the darkest time of year. Christmas is also a time we open our hearts, to be with our loved ones and to enjoy special traditions that have been passed down from different cultures and generations, which we now get to experience every holiday season.” 


Kirk Raffield - Jasper

“I love the time spent with loved ones and the unity we experience as a community. May we always remember how blessed we are in this community.” 


Robert VanHoose – Talking Rock

“I always enjoyed Christmas because it’s a time to spend with the people you love and have a chance to reflect on the year that has passed. As a kid my mom and dad put so much effort into making Christmas great for us kids and it always was!”


Marlene Loyd Garner - Covington

“Spending time with my family.”


Nichole Childers - Canton

“Family and board games. It’s a full day of spending time with the whole family. Way too much yummy food.” 


Kathe Hall - Jasper

“The magic of wonder and excitement children show about Santa Claus.”


Tammy Brown - Jasper

“I love everything about the Christmas season. I love decorating my home and having friends and family visit. I love riding around looking at Christmas lights. I love singing Christmas carols, especially this year I get to sing them to my new granddaughter Lillyana Joy. This will be a very special Christmas for our family having a baby in the family. The most important thing to remember is Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth. I am thankful and truly blessed.” 


Delane Lewis - Marble Hill

“I treasure the hush that comes after Eucharist on Christmas Eve -- when all the shopping and festivities are done, and it is time to joyously reflect on God's gift of His Son and the true miracle of His birth. Merry Christmas.”


Allison Priest - Jasper

“Christmas for me is always about family. The greatest gift for me is visiting with my parents, my brother and sister, my nieces and nephews, and cousins. There is no greater bond than the one filled with love.” 


Jacquelyn Bolton – Jasper

“The story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is called the Nativity. There would be no Christmas without Christ. God sent his only son to die on the cross, to take all our past, present and future sins upon Him so we could be forgiven. He wants a relationship with us. All we have to do is say yes, I want to follow Jesus. Turn away from our sins and we will be forgiven. Then put God the Father in the center of everything we do. Merry Christmas.”


Merry Christmas from the Progress!

What we need around here

We have no crystal ball and even if we did, we wouldn’t count on many of the following. But, what the heck, this is a time of wonder and magic and maybe a couple of our desires for the county in 2019 might come true. An editor can dream.


• Parks, parks, parks – For years we have begged for more recreational opportunities. The county’s own master plan for recreation from 2005 plainly calls for a whole new park.  The community center in Roper Park is the only significant advance in parks and rec. this county has made in 25 years and it opened in 2011 at a cost of $3 million; that’s not very recent and well shy of what the people of this county deserve. Our county ranks horribly among other counties (both smaller and larger) in park facilities. Maybe 2019 will see a change, but we won’t hold our breath.


• Incentives to attract desirable businesses – Any salesman will say you must have an incentive -- something to sweeten the pot so to speak. Neither Jasper nor Pickens County have any enticements – no tax abatements or special perks with fees or permits that might help solidify a deal with a new company. If someone shows up interested in bringing a new manufacturing operation to town or will fill a recognized need (a microbrewery/steakhouse in the old NAPA building) at the very least, we need something to offer.

•Someone to negotiate with the above enticements -  Our city/county operated without an economic developer for most of 2018, so it’s hard to guess exactly who would conduct negotiations on the public’s behalf with a potential new company. Maybe we didn’t miss any opportunities during the past year. We certainly aren’t advocating hiring an economic developer just to say we have one. This county needs a plan first or at least some discussion on economic development efforts. If there are no incentives or plans, then filling the position is of no significant benefit.


• A city manager to bring order to the Force – By the time you read this, the city of Jasper may have filled their first openly-advertised city manager job position. Working with paid consultants to find the right person, they attracted 39 applicants. Let’s hope whoever is hired can restore order to the Force, as they say in Star Wars, at least the Force that is city hall. If he/she is indeed a professional and experienced civic manager, we ask that the mayor and city council give their top person some breathing room. No reason to hire someone if the person is micro-managed and caught in a crossfire from day one.


• Separate the cows, chickens, rock concerts and wedding chapels  – It’s time for the county to re-think their land use codes, particularly the practice of using agricultural zonings as a catch-all category for everything from concert venues to wedding facilities. Common sense dictates that ag should be the most restrictive of zonings – quiet farm life. In the past year, we have seen planned public venues directed to the ag zoning and had a former planning director interpret the provisions so that shops of most any nature are legitimate in property identified as farm land. Neither dance floors nor tree house hotels come to mind when you think farms. It’s time to take a serious look at what constitutes agriculture or agro-tourism and where venues for wedding or concerts really belong.


• Let’s roll out a replacement for the Marble Festival – Not as a complaint about the Marble Festivals past, but looking to the future, let’s try something new. Shake things up, roll out new ideas/themes. For reasons no one can ever put their finger on, the county’s largest festival has never really grown, especially  compared to festivals in other north Georgia towns. Instead of further gradual tinkering, it’s time to shake those stones.


Wrapping up the year: 2018 was quiet, but forces for change lining up

As we head into a vacation hibernation, we’ll take a mostly objective look at how Pickens County fared in 2018.

Looking back over what we wanted for 2018 [presented in this space about this time last year], it appears the status quo is hard to dislodge. Yet, there seems to be a lot of forces lining up, so change may be afoot and coming in 2019.

Grading our 2018 wish list:

• More parks – Nope. The mountain bike park at Talking Rock keeps drawing more users and expanding. Thanks to this private Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land, our outdoor recreation has expanded. But, absolutely no thanks to the city of Jasper or Pickens County.

• Chattahoochee Tech playing a vital role – Not yet, but making progress. The technical college and high school are working together closely for the first time in years. And after enough citizens got angry at the always-empty parking lot, the tech school is making solid efforts by expanding their welding lab, beginning a carpentry program and assessing other needs. We rate this one going in the right direction.

• Fill the Buildings – We mentioned three prime commercial spots sitting empty in our 2018 wish list back in January. The former Hallmark store now contains the stylish Designs on Main. But the old NAPA building on the corner of downtown and the former Lawson Chevrolet site on Hwy. 515 are still not producing commercial spots. We get a 33 percent success rate here.

However, it can’t be ignored that two massive mixed-use developments on Highway 515, plus  a 96-unit apartment complex near Walmart, are moving along. We’d rate this one -  didn’t get it in 2018 but may get all we can handle in 2019.

 Other items sought in 2018:

• National championship for the Dawgs – best not discussed. 

•Pickens schools to improve system-wide test scores. A mixed bag here. It is refreshing to see the schools are very candid  about shortcomings, an honest attitude we have not seen from educators before, but unfortunately they have problem areas to discuss in the first place.

A few other points to ponder.  

It’s hard to tell how these bits of news may play out, but as Gandalf tells the Hobbits they may yet have a role to play in our future.

• By February of last year, the city found itself with a “historic power shift” at city hall with the mayor and city manager jobs being cleaved apart. Maybe this laid groundwork for improvement, maybe only rudderless. It’s hard to see any benefit so far.

• The county/city parted ways with their economic developer in February and thus far haven’t shown interest in filling that position. Commission Chair Rob Jones said Pickens is the only county in the area without a single person to direct economic development calls to, but he wasn’t sure what the  economic development councils/board wanted to do. Maybe we don’t need one.

• We were surprised when owners/developers of Potts Mountain (a 1,378 acre tract across the road from Big Canoe) decided to turn that area, once slated for additional phases of Big Canoe including a commercial area, into conservation property that will never be developed. While greenspace is always nice, we lament the loss of a future commercial area to capitalize off the successful gated community.

• Luckily for young couples they won’t have to wait to tie the knot until our county planning commission decides how to handle special event/wedding venues. Despite members of the commission acknowledging they need set guidelines and guidance, it’s still anyone’s guess how rezonings for venues will go.

•Kudos to Pickens County for landing a big one – water source that is. 2019 should see them filling water lines with 330,000 daily gallons from Grandview Lake. Finally a dedicated water source for the county system.